Deafness is frequently the effect of old age, and is incident to most persons in the decline of life. It is, however, sometimes owing to an original defect in the.or.anic structure of the ear; in which case the unhappy individual not only continues deaf, but frequently also speechless. - See Dumb.
This complaint may indeed arise from a variety of causes ; such as injuries sustained by the ear from wounds ; ulcers ; excessive noise; violent colds in the head ; fevers ; hard wax adhering to the cavity of the ear ; or, too great a degree of either moisture or dryness in that organ. When it is the effect of old age, or of wounds and ulcers in the ears, it is not easily remedied. If it proceed from a catarrh affecting the head, especially after cold-bathing, the patient must be careful to preserve that part constantly warm, particularly during the night: he should likewise take some gentle laxatives, keep his feet warm, and bathe them frequently in tepid or luke-warm water, at bed-time. Mercurial frictions have, in this case, been applied with success. But, if the complaint originate from fevers, it will generally disappear when the patient recovers his health ; or if it arise from dry wax clogging the ears, this may be softened, by dropping a little sweet oil, or oil of rosemary, into them; after which they should be syringed with warm milk and water.
If deafness be occasioned by too great a dryness in the ears (which may be easily ascertained by inspecting them), half an ounce of the oil of sweet almonds, and the same quantity of camphorated spirit of wine, or tincture of asafoe-tida, may be mixed together, and a few drops poured into the ear every night, previously to going to bed; care being taken to close them afterwards with a little wool, or cotton. When the ears abound with moisture, the superfluous liumour may be drained by an issue,-or seton, which should be made as near as possible to the part affected.
Various other remedies have been employed for the cure of deafness; such as the gall of an eel mixed with spirit of wine; or equal parts of Hungary water, and spirit of. lavender; to be dropped into the ear. Etmuller. highly extolls. amber and musk; and BRooks af-firms, that hardness of bearing has often been cured by putting a grain or two of musk into the ear with cotton wool. Where, however, a powerful stimulant becomes abso-. lutely necessary, camphorated oil, with the addition of a few drops of volatile alkaline spirit, may be con-sidered as one of the most powerful applications. It will be proper, in, such case, to begin with a very small quantity of the alkali, and to increase it progressively, as the ear is enabled to bear it. In several instances, where the disease depended on a state of insensibility in. the nerves, both the shower-bath, and electricity have been success-fully resorted to. - We can from experience recommend a few drops of onion juice on cotton, to be worn in the ear for several weeks, and daily renewed. - Dr. Sims judiciously advises deaf persons to expire forcibly, with their mouth and nose closely stopped; a simple but rational expedient, which ought to be frequently repeated, though it has sometimes afforded instant relief.
These various remedies, however, should be judiciously adapted to different states of the disorder ; for, though real benefit has occasionally been derived from them, yet they also often fail, and, not unfrequently, are productive of in jury. The organs of hearing, as well as those of sight, being extremely tender, require the most cautious treatment, and ought not on any account to be tampered with, nor submitted to the experiments of ignorant pretenders. Hence, instead of having recourse to nostrums, we recommend those persons, who are afflicted with deafness, to keep the head warm.— From whatever cause the disorder may originate, this will always be found the safest and most proper practice : - more real benefit has often been derived from it, in the most obstinate cases, than from any medicines whatever.